Danielle Keys Bess and Jolanda Jones prepare to face off for 3rd time in race for Texas House District 147

Here's what we know

HOUSTON – The first day of early voting for the May 24th primary runoff election saw Texas House District 147 Democratic primary candidates Danielle Keys Bess and Jolanda Jones hitting polling locations as they prepared for a third battle on the ballot for the seat once held by Garnet Coleman.

“I am running as the people’s candidate,” Bess told KPRC 2 while outside of a voting site at the Sunnyside Multi-Service Center.

Bess is a Houston realtor who has worked on campaigns for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and is endorsed by Lee.

“I’ve been active in government and public service for the last 20 years through campaigns and other government services,” Bess said.

Because neither Bess nor Jones got more than 50% of the vote in the March Democratic primary, the two were set for a runoff in May.

But before that, both candidates appeared on the ballot for the May 7 Special Election to determine who would serve the remainder of Coleman’s term through 2022.

Jones, who was endorsed by Coleman, won that race by just 202 votes.

“I am now state representative-elect,” said Jones who will be sworn in on Wednesday in Austin.

The narrow margin led Bess to write a letter to Harris County Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria, calling for an audit of the mail-in ballots from that election.

“I just want them to be looked at closer, and I only say that because of the numbers. The numbers showed a 114% increase in mail-in ballots,” Bess said.

Jones, who visited a polling location at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Monday, accused Bess of using “Republican tactics” and gathered support from eleven current Democratic state representatives who issued a letter condemning the call for an audit.

Bess told KPRC 2 the audit request was about voting integrity.

“This is to make sure integrity is held in voting. It’s not to take votes away from other people, not to affect seniors, but I also want to make sure seniors are not being taken advantage of,” she said.

KPRC 2 News reached out to the Election Administrator’s Office about the status of the audit but did not get a response.

Bess, a first-time candidate for public office, says she is running to bring a fresh perspective.

“I think it’s time for someone else to go into office. My opponent has run for a plethora of seats, and I think it’s a time and a place to allow younger voices to be heard,” she said.

Jones is a criminal defense attorney who previously served on the Houston City Council and the HISD Board of Trustees.

“I have a wealth of experience and I believe experience matters. At every elected office I’ve held, I fought for the least, the last, the lost and that’s what people want,” she said.

The candidates share platform issues of protecting voting rights and expanding access to affordable healthcare and housing.

Dr. Michael Adams, chair of the political science department at Texas Southern University, says a special election in the middle of the two contests for the general election may have led to voter fatigue or voter confusion about the process and heightened tensions in these final days.

“Bess got more votes in-person on Election Day (May 7) than Jolanda Jones, so I think that was a clarion bell for Jolanda Jones to either make sure she tightens up her get out the vote campaign. I think it’s getting to be a little ugly in this contest in terms of what we call, in the political science world, mudslinging,” Adams told KPRC 2.

Early voting runs until Friday, May 20. The primary runoff election day is May 24.


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